All About Baby!

Although this is my fourth pregnancy (yes, we have a little one with Jesus) there is nothing about it that I am taking for granted or not excited to share.  I have been saving this post for awhile, mostly because I wanted to get some holiday stuff up, but I am eager to talk baby!  It's no shortage of a miracle to Travis and I that the Lord would grant our desire for another little Armstrong and we are so thankful for this privilege.  Everything about having a baby is incredible.  Sometimes incredibly hard, but miraculous all the way around.  

We were surprised to learn about baby #3, but not shocked.  I was mostly relieved that my exhaustion had a cause and my not feeling normal could be explained.  I didn't tell Travis I was buying a test, although I had mentioned days earlier that I could be pregnant so I know he was curious and at each mention of a symptom, wondering if I really was carrying baby #3??  I love thinking back on each time that I've stared at a positive pregnancy test and the sudden rush of emotion that overtook me.  Each time I've been alone and I immediately felt such joy, mixed with such surprise and a deep gratitude to the Lord.  This time was no different.  Trav and the kids were eating lunch when I slipped away to check my suspicions out.  I could hear them giggling and chatting, all the while unsuspecting that I was imagining the huge changes this bit of news was about to bring.  
I tried to wipe the grin off my face and act very normal, plotting about how I might tell Travis and if we should let the kids in on this so early?  I mostly tried to figure out how far along I might be, googling a due date calendar and guessing that July 4th could be the magic date.  
I walked back to the kitchen, kissed my people on their foreheads and went about the cleaning up process.  It was November 2nd, a Saturday.  We were already listening to Christmas music and the kids were soon playing again while Trav was helping me clean up. 
I had my back to him, deep in thought, when suddenly I caught wind of the song playing on Pandora.  It was from Christ Tomlin's Christmas album, one of my all time favorites...
"My soul, my soul, magnifies the Lord, my soul,
Magnifies the Lord...
For He has done great things for me, great things for me!" 

Yes, the song of Mary...her precious reply to the Lord upon also learning she was pregnant and this was no ordinary event.  She was chosen by God to carry His Son, unsuspecting, unworthy and unexplainable in every way...I can't even imagine and yet, as I heard those familiar words, my heart swelled with that same refrain of praise...yes, He has done great things for me!  Before I could catch my breath I felt the hot tears running down my face, yep, I was pregnant for sure!  I tried to keep it together but soon my shoulders were quivering and all the emotion of knowing what God had given us came spilling out.  Travis noticed I was quiet and came over, I turned around and he saw my tears, followed by a whispered "Travy, I'm pregnant!"  And that look that came over his face, the same one I've seen 3 times prior, a smile of pure joy mixed with a little shock too!  Ready or not, this was happening and our lives would be changing again.  Suddenly the timing of God started making so much sense to me.  Things He's impressed on my heart for I could see His hand clearly preparing me, us. 
Yep, we're having our 3rd baby!!!!!
I will always remember that day as such a sweet one.  We were all home together, Travis and I stealing looks of joy all day and mouthing, "What in the world???  Can you believe it???" to each other.  
Sweet, sweet, sweet.  And our kids, totally clueless...sort of.  I already shared that Ava suddenly brought me a picture she'd colored of me with a baby in my stomach, but she also asked why I was crying and when we told her Mommy was just happy, she slipped in a line I'll never forget..."God's going to give us a baby in your tummy, Mommy and I can't wait! We're going to have 3 babies in our family Mom.  Carter, Ava and a brother or a sister."  She was SO right!  

I figured out later that the baby at that point was the size of a little appleseed.  I downloaded an app that we've been using for weekly updates and we've loved keeping track of baby armstrong's progress week after week! I included some screen shots from each week in this post so you can see the progress too.
Who knew an appleseed could make such an impact already?  
That first week was surreal.  We were keeping such a fun secret from everyone and getting in bed every night with the same thoughts, "holy cow, this is awesome!"  
Realizing this was our first opportunity to share some big news over the holidays, I scrambled to call a friend and ask her to take some photos for us so I could upload them to the pre-ordered cards I'd already purchased...the ONE year I do that and we get big news!!  She helped me brainstorm and we decided the baby swing in her backyard swing set would be so fun!  I brought along a stuffed lamb we've had in both kids nurseries and we threw it in the pics with some baby blankets.  I would have assumed the kids would pick up on that, but when we asked Ava why we had a lamb in every picture she said, "Because it's cute and we just love it so much!"  Ha!  
After the photos hoot we decided to let the kids know what was happening.  This is the look on Ava's face when we told her and before she squealed with joy!!  She was SO excited and asked us so many funny questions like, "Can you open your mouth so I can see the baby?  Are we having the baby tomorrow?  What's the baby's name?"  She was thrilled immediately and we loved telling her that God heard her and answered her prayers with a "yes!"  
This was Carter's reaction!  Also happy and full of questions but mostly over his head.  So odd to look at him and think his days of being the youngest are numbered.
And in a week our appleseed grew into a sweet pea just like that.

It's amazing the development that is taking place at such early stages and how critical each week really is.  Our God is such an amazing creator and we are so happy to be along for this ride!  This week was the first one that I started feeling not so great.  Suddenly food sounded terrible, while also I was starving and hungry constantly.  Smells started affecting me, the strongest one being coffee in the morning.  You must know by now that I am coffee lover but at week 6, I wanted nothing to do with it and even started asking Travis not to make some at home because I couldn't take it!  So weird!  I was in this really odd stage of feeling gross and yet unable to tell anybody about it.  We began eating lots of takeout that week simply because the thought of cooking or going to the grocery store sounded unbearable.  Travis saved the day with endless trips to pick up this, that and the other thing, while I just tried to keep the kids alive and my dinner from coming back up.  
If I thought week 6 was starting to get tough, I had no idea what I was in for during week 7!
Our blueberry gave me a run for my money that basically checked me out of civilized life for an entire week.  I have no idea what happened this week or how we all made it, but I spent 95% of it on the couch or in my bed, sipping on ginger-ale and eating Special K, italian ice cups and guzzling orange juice like it was liquid gold.  Because we weren't really telling people yet as it was so early, I  cried a lot this week, wondering how I was going to do this.  Ironically I had my cousins over for brunch at the beginning of the week and I felt great that morning, but after that I took a major nosedive.  My kids watched a million movies and shows, which they were NOT complaining about and they were such angels, somehow comprehending that Mommy was feeling sick while being excited that it was due to a baby!  Ava climbed in bed with me during so many naps, watching Food Network and begging me to color with her.  She was the best little companion and I was so grateful.  Even Carter played so well that week and was my buddy when I had to take Ava to school.  Twice I almost had to go up to Trav's office to lay down but he sat on the floor with me and we popped lemon heads in our mouths until the nausea calmed down.  I've suddenly started carrying so much candy and so many snacks in my purse and in the car, believe me Carter has not suffered because of it!  Travis was also my hero this week, helping me night and day with the kids and taking over in the kitchen as soon as he got home.  I've not experienced this much nausea with my other pregnancies but it was a 24/7 issue and one I was hoping would not last forever.  Thankfully I never really threw up, however I basically felt like I could at any second all day and night.  I had one horrible night that kept me awake and running in and out of the bathroom, willing myself not to lose it.  This was a tough, tough week and one of the main reasons I begged Travis to take us to Iowa early for the week of Thanksgiving, so I could get some help and feel like someone else was taking care of me too.  I longed for my Mom like crazy this week and it was killing me not to call her and tell her what was happening.  I even entertained asking my Dad to drive up at one point mid-week to help me, which I know he would have done, but I wanted to surprise them and I just kept taking everything one day at a time.  Pregnancy is not for wimps but God's grace was so evident to me this week too. Nothing about this week was easy but He saw me through all of it and we made it to Iowa, which felt like a huge relief to me. 
When we got to Iowa I was in my 8th week and with my very pregnant little sister!  
With every day I began to see a little hope, although the nausea was still very present and I had such a love/hate relationship with food that week.  Thankfully the Thanksgiving menu was exactly what my tummy needed and loved, so I ate TONS of leftovers all week and weekend.  We also tried to eat at so many of our favorite places in Iowa and my Mom made so many wonderful things but I definitely couldn't eat it all or in very big quantities.  I despised our favorite Japanese Steakhouse on this visit after trying to eat it and feeling very sick for two days.  The best part of the week was just being at my parents, the kids taken care of and having a ball, and not a lot I had to do!  I never even left their house from Sunday until Friday in fact and it was glorious.  I did a lot of sleeping and resting and it was such a blessing.  Of course we also had lots of fun with family but when you don't feel well there is nothing like going home to your parents for some TLC.  I tried to remember that all this sickness is really a clear sign of life and therefore a wonderful necessity!  But I won't lie, it wasn't the easiest of weeks yet. 
Before we left I started my 9th week.  This is Jennie and I after we ate at one of our favorite places with Dave and Trav, and I instantly regretted it.  Two preggos and a menu of very rich food does not equal a smooth date night!  

So we left Iowa with a little, growing olive and we came home to this...
Last week was a brutal slap of reality as the temps plummeted and the snowstorms blew in. 
The temps have been painful, but the snow beautiful.  
I felt like I finally turned a corner last week. I spent most of it hunkered down inside with the kids, but finally felt more like cooking and even did some baking.  My nausea seemed a lot more manageable this week and not quite so constant.  I am so grateful it's winter while I feel like this.  It makes staying home and doing nothing so much easier!  In addition to feeling better I began to get a few things done around here.  I've been so sick that our house has basically been a disaster and I've realized how simple this Christmas is going to need to be.  I just can't do everything I'd like to, but there is some sweet freedom in letting go too.  I started to do some online shopping this week and dreaming about what next Christmas will be like with 3 kids to shop for!!  I'm thinking Travis and I will not be buying gifts for each other for the next 20 years :) :) :) 

On Friday our olive became a prune and I started my 10th week.  It was so fun to go to Church and hear lots of "Congratulations" from friends.  Finally having our news be public makes everything feel so much more real and it's a little easier to not care if I'm showing based on what I wear!  I'm pretty sure I started showing the minute I took a pregnancy test, I think the third time around will do that :) 
So far the last few days have been good.  I've learned that red meat is not for me yet, I made several meals for my family this week that they loved and I couldn't handle more than a bite.  Chicken is my go-to protein and I'm throwing chicken dishes their way this week.  
Today we got the privilege of finally seeing our little peanut!!!  That's his/her head on the left and you can see a little arm waving in the air.  Everything looked perfect and the heartbeat was so strong.  We were overjoyed at seeing this little one for the first time and taking in the miracle God is knitting together.
This is an amazing 4D shot of the baby, that's the head at the top with an arm covering the little face!  He/She is doing their best Superman/Wonder Woman pose and we think that is just perfect...
...because we've got some superheroes waiting for another little one to join the family!  
Boy or girl this little baby will fit right in! 

I am so thankful to say that all is well and the baby is doing great.  I'm hoping the end of the first trimester will bring an end to this nausea and maybe I'll gain some more energy too.  I can definitely tell a difference in this pregnancy from the others.  I'm not sure if being 5 years older or having 2 little ones to take care of is the main culprit but it's not been an easy start and I'm just keeping my head above water for awhile.  We have lots to think about and decisions to make, but for now I'm taking a break from all of that and enjoying the wonder of Christmas and the great things God has done for us.  

Thanks for sharing our joy about this little blessing and for all of your sweet comments on the blog.  What a year 2014 will be, we can't wait to grow along with baby Armstrong and watch the Lord meet our needs every step of the way.  For now I'm headed to the kitchen for some cereal and maybe a few pickles.  Yes, so weird and so typical for me these days!  There are goofy things happening in my world but a wonderful reason for all of it.  Stay tuned, I'm sure it will be an adventure! 

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